Flight and hotel San Francisco
Counterculture and cityscapes
SF’s rich legacy as a hotbed of political movements puts it firmly on the map for any budding activist or history lover. The city was the home of the hippie movement and the 1967 Summer of Love. It propelled the gay rights scene and was a source of inspiration for Beat Generation writers, most notably Jack Kerouac.
SF is the beating heart of Northern California, located on the West Coast and the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula, which separates San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. You'll be close to the water, and the shallow estuary of the bay offers a scenic panorama of turquoise waters spotted with seals and sea lions.
The bay area is also the ideal place to observe the iconic Golden Gate Bridge reaching out to Marin County. A city famous for its hills, there is also ample opportunity to be blown away by the views. Twin Peaks, for example, provides a stunning glimpse of downtown San Francisco, especially at dawn or dusk.
Before you fly
If you're interested in a San Francisco flight and hotel package, direct flights from London will have you in SF within 11 hours. Manchester is also a popular place to leave from, with 14-hour flights to San Francisco. While SF is 8 hours ahead of the UK, don’t let jet lag put you off – travelling west is always easier than going east. What’s more, you won't have to worry about a language barrier. For city breaks in San Francisco, you may need a visa before travelling to the US.
If you've opted for a flight and hotel in San Francisco, you'll likely arrive at SF International Airport, where you can exchange your money for US dollars. To get into town, you can take a 30-minute train on the BART, SF’s alternative to the London underground, easily and inexpensively.
A trip for any time of the year
SF is a buzzing city, welcoming visitors year round. If you’re looking for sunshine and clear skies, go in autumn, when temperatures average 13 degrees. While winters are often colder and wetter, if you’re travelling on a shoestring, this is the time to grab bargain package holidays in San Francisco.
SF holds numerous annual events. Halloween is a cause for celebration and is marked annually by a Ghost Walk across the city. October is also the time for bookworms with Litquake, a weeklong jaunt of literary-themed activities. In the summer months, music lovers can attend the free Fillmore Jazz Festival or find their inner tranquillity at Peace in the Park, which invites locals and visitors alike to rejuvenate with activities such as tai chi and folk dance.
Exploring SF: Hippies and dim sum
No matter how long you spend in SF, you’ll wish you’d stayed longer. There’s something going on every weekend in San Francisco. Head to Union Square, the main hub for business, skyscrapers and shopping. From there, branch out to any number of the city’s eclectic neighbourhoods.
The Bay Area is popular due to its picture-perfect marina. Close by, the Pacific Heights neighbourhood offers a feast for the eyes with pretty streets of exquisite Victorian and Edwardian homes. SF is home to North America’s oldest Chinatown, which is located close to the districts of Russian Hill and North Beach. If you like dim sum, this is where to find it! Make sure to also sample the freshly made fortune cookies at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. Haight-Ashbury is another a must-see. As the birthplace of 1960s counterculture, it boasts vibrant rainbow painted houses, hip cafés and retro bars.
A cocktail of experiences
With such an abundance of things to do in SF, it’s hard to know where to start on a package holiday in San Francisco. This handy list will point you in the right direction:
- Ride SF’s traditional cable car system.
- See the former home of America’s most notorious criminals on Alcatraz Island.
- Take a walking tour to see the murals in the Mission.
- Slurp miso soup at the Japanese Tea Garden.
- Shop for souvenirs on Pier 39.
- Experience American architecture at the Painted Ladies houses, across from Alamo Square.
- Sip Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Café by Fisherman’s Wharf.
- Take in panoramic views from Coit Tower.
A delight for cuisinophiles
A long-time advocate of the locavore movement, SF has many spots where you can taste locally produced cuisine. Nopa, in the Lower Haight neighbourhood, offers healthy nosh such as beet hummus, tagine and flavoursome salad. Alternatively, you can cook for yourself – on a weekend in San Francisco, there's nothing better than picking up ingredients from the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market!
There are a number of local delicacies to incorporate into San Francisco city breaks – try sweetcorn chowder served in huge bread rolls, or a good old American feast of chicken or waffles at Soul Grove, a charming, all-American eatery. SF’s thriving foodie scene is very international. Head to Little Italy for authentic pizza, pasta and cannoli, or enjoy the Hispanic vibes and cheap, delicious Mexican eats on offer in the Mission.
Looking for a memorable souvenir?
You’ll treasure your experiences on package holidays in San Francisco – why not share the love and take something unique back with you? You'll find much more than ‘San Francisco’ fridge magnets. Pick up one of Scents of San Francisco's candles, fragranced to evoke local neighbourhoods, or take back some Red Bay Coffee from the Museum of the African Diaspora.